Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Setback to Netanyahu Outreach: Israel-Africa Summit Postponed

Setback to Netanyahu Outreach: Israel-Africa Summit Postponed

English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily.

"At the request of the president of Togo [Faure Gnassingbe] and following a joint consultation with the prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu), it was made a decision to postpone the convening of the Israel-Africa Summit, scheduled to take place in October in Lome", the statement read.

A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry said: "Netanyahu responded to the request of Gnassingbe to postpone the date of the African-Israeli summit to a date to be agreed between the two countries". Netanyahu was a special guest at the June summit.

In preparation for the summit, Togo invited 54 African countries to participate in the four-day African Israeli Summit in which 20 to 30 heads of state were expected to take part.

Local media reported the meeting was canceled due to boycott threats by Palestinians and several African countries.

"I remain convinced that all parties want to move forward on the reforms... in order to reach a consensus to respond to the legitimate expectations of the Togolese people", Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the UN Special Envoy for West Africa and the Sahel, said in a statement released over the weekend.

The summit, which meant to strengthen commercial and diplomatic ties with Israel, was celebrated last week by Netanyahu as a "big breakthrough" at a Ministry of Foreign Affairs event, where he also spoke of Israel's "return to Africa", Haaretz said.

Over the past few months, South Africa has led a movement to prevent a plan by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to normalize relations with African countries.

In its statement to the press, the Foreign Ministry said that the event had been "postponed" but it did not provide an alternative date.

Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, also welcomed the decision, adding that: "The State of Palestine welcomes the position adopted by South Africa and other African states to shun this propaganda exercise by Israel".

The delay came amid reports that Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania had chose to boycott the gathering.

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